Friday Lightning Round: What's next in Syria?

This is a rush transcript from "Special Report," July 20, 2012. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

BRET BAIER, ANCHOR: We're going to keep the Lightning Round this week. Every week, voters vote for your choice online in this our Friday Lightning Round. And this week, Charles' pick won overwhelmingly. Charles?

CHARLES KRAUTHAMMER, SYNDICATED COLUMNIST: Well, it's really a two-part question. The first is if the amount of coverage that the press will be giving to the blunders that have been made in this campaign is a 10, how much -- what percentage of that will they will be devoting to what I think is the blunder of the year by Obama in speaking about if you made a business you weren't the one who built it? The correct answer here is about two out of 10. I think they are going to ignore that resoundingly.

BAIER: Put it back up. I think Juan is confused here.



BAIER: All right. First of all, Charles, some people say it wasn't a gaffe.  You said it wasn't a gaffe but more illuminating.

KRAUTHAMMER: Well, it was a gaffe in that it revealed what he really believes in. So I think it's the biggest blunder of the campaign. And it's gotten very little play in press and I think that's not accidental.

WILLIAMS: Well, I'm a Fox fan and I think Fox has given it a lot of play.

KRAUTHAMMER: That's what makes Fox unique.

WILLIAMS: It's been all over Fox.


BAIER: Answer the first part?

STEVE HAYES, SENIOR WRITER, THE WEEKLY STANDARD: I think the answer is two. I agree with Charles, I think it's two, and the reason is not only because it hasn't gotten as much coverage as it deserves but the fact that everybody who is covering it, I think in most mainstream outlets is treating the White House excuses exculpatory when in fact the context is actually damning.

KRAUTHAMMER: The second part is how long will the main stream media keep hounding Mitt Romney about ten years of tax returns as Democrats are demanding? One week, one month, until Election Day, or until end of time? I'm tempted to say "d" but I think the answer will be "c."

WILLIAMS: Well, I think the answer is "c," but you could say "d" if you expect him to win. Because if he is President of the United States people are still going to be asking, where are your tax returns, buddy?

KRAUTHAMMER: If you're a Democrat it will steam until the end of time --

WILLIAMS: I think at some point even Republicans will say come on, because we are already seeing Republicans say let us see them come on.

HAYES: The correct answer is "c," until the election, which is why I think he'd be smarter to release more of them now than he has chosen to.  But there is this huge double standard that has to be pointed out between the aggressiveness on Mitt Romney's taxes and the lack of interest on Fast and Furious documents.

BAIER: Syria, what happens next? We're watching continued massacre in Syria as Bashar al-Assad pushes back and tries to hold on to power.  Steve?

HAYES: Well, I think what we know of Bashar al-Assad and what we've heard from defectors is that he is likely to escalate before this ends. I think this will end. We're close to the end of the Assad regime. I think we're likely to see him go out in fit of violence.

BAIER: Juan?

WILLIAMS: I think he is over. I think it's just matter of days. I would be surprised if he is in power by Monday morning. And I think the consequential act here is whether or not the rebel forces are able to sweep him out quickly or he's able to hang in there. But I don't anticipate he has much left in terms of his forces. Can he get to another country, will he pop up somewhere else? That's the next bit of news.

BAIER: Charles?

KRAUTHAMMER: The problem with a quick ending here is that the entire Alawite community, which is a sectarian 10 percent of Syria, which has ruled it ruthlessly over the other 90 percent for half a century is understands that if it loses, it gets wiped out. It's got nowhere to go. Assad can end up in Moscow but the Alawites are stuck. I think it will go on longer because they have nowhere to go and this will be a desperate fight for them to the finish.  Either they stay in power or they are massacred.

BAIER: Finally, Iran and what Israel will do about this latest attack that they are blaming on Iran. Take a listen to the House Intelligence Committee chairman on what he thinks.


REP. MIKE ROGERS, R – MI: I believe the Israelis when they say there will be retaliation for this attack. I don't think we should do anything but take them at their word. So you worry that Iran is starting to escalate these type of activities.


BAIER: Charles?

KRAUTHAMMER: I think Israel will do what it does in these circumstances, track down the people involved, Hezbollah, Iranians, and they will kill them around the world. But not a major attack on Iran. I can't imagine they will do that.

BAIER: Juan?

WILLIAMS: No I don't think so. But boy, if there is a pattern here, there is a pattern. And it's clearly state sponsored in my opinion. That is an opinion.

BAIER: Steve?

HAYES: Israel will respond and they should respond. This is one of the problems with decoupling the nuclear talks from the broader regime and from Iran's sponsorship of terrorism over the years.

BAIER: But the question is does that response trigger something else?

HAYES: Yes. I think we are likely in a pattern, where there will be back and forth. Iran will continue to target civilians. The Israelis will target nuclear scientists until something bigger happens.

BAIER: In coming weeks?

KRAUTHAMMER: It will happen, and we might not even hear about a lot of it because it will happen clandestinely. That's what the Israelis do rather well.

BAIER: That is it for the panel. But stay tuned for some final thoughts on this tragic day.

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